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A Thrilling Performance

Theatre faculty performing staged reading

Colorado Mesa University’s theatre department is teaming up with the Art Center of Western Colorado to present a staged reading of Misery, based on the 1987 thriller by Stephen King. Faculty members Jill Van Brussel, Benjamin Reigel and Mo LaMee will perform in the Art Center’s North Gallery the last weekend of October.

A staged reading is typically a public performance of a play where actors are rehearsed but hold scripts and use minimal props, costumes and staging.

“What I love about staged readings is that they are a chance to really strip away everything except the power of the words and the actors speaking them,” said Reigel, an associate professor of theatre.

Misery follows successful romance novelist Paul Sheldon, played by Reigel, who is rescued from a car crash by his “number one fan,” Annie Wilkes, and wakes up captive in her secluded home.

Wilkes will be played by Associate Professor of Theatre Jill Van Brussel. Those familiar with the movie version of the story will remember Kathy Bates’ terrifying interpretation of the character.

A reader of stage directions is also enormously important in a staged reading. Many of the most harrowing moments in Misery are communicated visually or through action in a fully realized production. Those moments will be communicated through reading the script's stage directions rather than through dialogue.

“An expressive reader can help audiences imagine dramatic moments and leverage the intensity and impact of those moments that exist outside the lines of the actors,” said Theatre Arts Department Head Mo LaMee, who will also play the role of Sheriff Buster. Stage directions for Misery will be read by a CMU theatre major, as yet to be determined.

Even a production minimally staged requires a director and Jeremy Franklin, director of music theatre, will serve in the role of directing his fellow faculty members in this production. It is important for students to witness their professors in action and to be exposed to professional work in this way.  

“We’ve been talking about wanting to work on a faculty project for several years now,” said Franklin. “Misery kept coming up in those conversations because we all love the book and film so much, and the roles are perfect for Jill and Ben.”

Just in time for Halloween, Misery will play to an intimate audience at the Art Center on October 27 and 28 at 7:30pm.

“The Art Center is thrilled to welcome CMU’s Department of Theatre Arts for this production,” said Executive Director Lee Borden. “Any chance we have to collaborate with CMU is exciting for us. I know it’s going to be a knock-out show!”

Tickets are available at


Written by Laura Bradley